How to Turn a Vinyl Decal into Canvas Art

Guys, I love canvas art.

I love that it’s unassuming. Raw, even.  It’s art as the artist intended it to be seen and experienced. It's exactly as it was when the artist stepped back from the canvas to look over their work one final time. No frame or matt to clutter the design.  It just is.

Ya know what I don’t love? The price tag. Oh, it hurts.

Not because I don’t think the art, the experience, is worth the money. It totally is.

No, I can’t deal with the price of canvas art because I have student loans.  And those fuckers are relentless; dictating my budget and my life.

But I need to be in a home that makes me happy. I can’t live without art I love until my loans are paid off. That’s no way to live! So I figured out a budget conscious way to have art until I am free of those nasty L- words:


And guess what? No one is the wiser. No one has to know I am a cheapass with “fake” art displayed. Except that I am unashamed of that title so they probably know that about me already.

Here’s what I used for this incredible fake-out project:

Not Pictured: Super Glue. See Step 4 of All the Details for more info.


I scoured the internet for tropical beach art prints and finally found this gem:

If I’m being honest, I had originally planned to buy a print and Mod Podge it onto a canvas, but I was 1-1 in my record of success with that method. So when I saw the wall decal option, I was sold.



I’ll start with the Short and Sweet directions, follow up with the full tutorial in All the Details, and wrap things up with a breakdown of the Total Cost of the project.

The Short and Sweet:

  1.   Find an art print you love and order it in Vinyl Wall Decal form. (I love the selection at And no, they are not paying me to say that.) Purchase a blank canvas similar in size.
  2.  Center it, measure it if you need to, and decide how you want to address the corners. (Either a mitered cut or 90° angle cut).
  3.  Peel the backing off and apply the decal to the art either from top to bottom or left to right. The most important part is to make sure to smooth any air bubbles as you go. A plastic gift card comes in handy for this.
  4.   Wrap the edges around the side and back, securing with a little super glue if need be.
  5.  Display it on a shelf or hang it on the wall and be proud of your craftiness!

All the Details:

1.       Plan your picture placement.

Set the vinyl transfer on top of the canvas and figure out if you are going to center it or not based on the design of the print.  (My print was 24''x18'' and my canvas was only 20''x16''.)


I wanted to make sure the starfish didn’t get cut off so I payed close attention to the lower left hand corner.


Once I figured out about where the decal needed to lay, I carefully flipped the decal and canvas over. I knew based on  the design that the bottom edge of the canvas would be 5/8’’ from the bottom of the decal.


 In the interest of sanity that was the measurement I used on all of the sides. I used my ruler to measure 5/8 out and draw lines on each side.


2.       Trim the decal.

Next I cut along the lines.


Then I figured out I prefer the 90° method for applying the decal to the corners, so I used my ruler to mark a square in each of the corners.


I cut along the lines and flipped it over right side up.

*Save those little corner pieces just in case you need to patch a corner later.


3.   Apply the decal to the canvas.

(Wash and dry your hands really well before you touch the adhesive part of the decal. You will get a better bond that way.)

Lay the decal face down and center the canvas (also face down) on top. You want to make sure the corners of the canvas are inside all four of the squares cut out from the corners. Keep your plastic card handy.


Peel either the top or the side of the backing back about 2 inches or so.


I like to apply from top to bottom.


Place the exposed vinyl on the canvas...


Carefully, gently, use the card to squeeze out any air bubbles, one section at a time.


Once the decal is smoothed and flush against the canvas, reach under and pull down the backing a couple more inches. Keep the decal elevated ...


And again, smooth it down with the card, a little at a time.


Keep slowly peeling down the backing a little at a time.


And smoothing as you go until you get to the bottom edge of the canvas.


4.       Secure the sides.

Working from the center out, one at a time, smooth the sides of the decal down over the sides of the canvas.


Secure using just a little bit of super glue.

*Different companies use a different strength adhesive on the backs of their vinyl decals. Depending on the decal, you may or may not need the super glue.

If you start to smooth edges over and notice there’s a gap, just use the squares you cut from the corner earlier to place them underneath. No one will be able to tell, I promise.

5.       Ta dah!

Lookie there... you made a fantastic fake-out piece of art! And it looks awesome!


Now place it (or hang it) and love it!

What it Costs:

Here is about what you can expect to spend.


Considering most canvas art this size runs about a hundred bucks, I’d say that’s a pretty impressive savings!

Do you have similar projects you have made to help save money (and pay off the student loans)? Please share ‘em below in the comments!


Happy crafting, friends.  And whatever you make, make it yours!


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